Washtenaw County, Michigan
History, Records, Facts and Genealogy

Washtenaw County was created on 20 Nov 1822 (Organizrd in 1826) and was formed from Wayne and Oakland Counties. The County was named for Native American people called the area west of Detroit, "Wash-ten-ong," meaning "further district" or "land beyond." Another explanation is that it was a name for the Grand River and referred to the areas along and near the river.. The County Seat is Ann Arbor .

Counties adjacent to Washtenaw County are Livingston County (north), Oakland County (northeast), Ingham County (northwest), Wayne County (east), Jackson County (west), Monroe County (southeast), Lenawee County (southwest). Townships found in Washtenaw County include Ann Arbor Charter, Augusta, Bridgewater, Dexter, Freedom, Lima, Lodi, Lyndon, Manchester, Northfield, Pittsfield Charter, Salem, Saline, Scio, Sharon, Superior, Sylvan, Webster, York Charter, Ypsilanti Charter Townships. Cities, Towns and Communities include Ann Arbor, Barton Hills Village, Bridgewater, Chelsea, Dexter, Manchester, Milan, Salem, Saline, Whitmore Lake, Whittaker, Willis, Ypsilanti.

  • The Washtenaw County Official Government Website
  • Search Historical Newspapers from Michigan (1837 - 1922) - Quickly find names and keywords in over 450 million articles, obituaries, marriage notices, birth announcements and other items published in over 2,800 historical U.S. newspapers. New content added monthly!
  • Family History Library - The largest collection of free family history, family tree and genealogy records in the world.
  • Stories, Memories & Histories - Stories and histories compiled by others researching a person or area can be an amazing source of information about your ancestors. Not only do they generally contain dates and places of vital events like birth, marriage, and death, but they often relate stories and memories that help you really get to know the character of your ancestors.
  • Search Michigan Historical Records - Databases include Court, Land, Wills & Financial Records; Birth, Marriage & Death Records; Voter Lists & Census Records; Immigration & Emigration Records; Obituary Records; Military Records; Family Tree Records; Pictures; Stories, Memories & Histories; Directories & Member Lists and much more....

  • Washtenaw County, Michigan History Books at Amazon.com

County Court, Probate and Tax Records

See Also Michigan Land Records, Marriage Records, Court, Tax & Probate Records

PLEASE READ FIRST!!! Please call the clerk's department to confirm hours, mailing address, fees and other specifics before visiting or requesting information because of sometimes changing contact information.

Researchers often overlook the importance of court records, probate records, and land records as a source of family history information.

All departments below at located at the Washtenaw County Courthouse, 101 East Huron Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48107 , unless a different address is listed below. NOTE: The date listed for each category of record is the earliest record known to exist in that county. It does not indicate that there are numerous records for that year and certainly does not indicate that all such events that year were actually registered.

Washtenaw County Clerk has the following Records for: Births & Deaths: 1867 to present (Death Indexes from 1970 to present searched only by staff with written request), Marriages: 1833 to present (Indexes from 1970 to present searched only by staff with written request), Divorce: 1838 to present. (Records with Court Services Division at same address), Naturalization: Available at State Archives, Michigan Historical Center. Internet Access: A death or marriage record may be searched on our webite at the County Clerk's Office. The death record index is from 1960 to present. The marriage record index is from 1965 to present. Customers may also place order for death and marriage records using a credit card at the reference website. Birth record requests from eligible persons may also be requested at the same website. . The Office is located at the County Courthouse, see address above for contact information. Phone: (734) 222-6700 .

The County Clerk is responsible for keeping records of births, deaths, assumed names, co-partnerships, issuing and filing marriage licenses, gun permits, notary bonds and processing passports.

Washtenaw County Register of Deeds has Land Records from 1835 and is located at the County Courthouse, see address above for contact information. Phone: (734)994-2515 .

The Register is the County's official recording officer for all legal documents pertaining to the transfers and encumbrances of all real estate property within the County. The Register also provides permanent storage for approved original subdivision plats, condominiums, land surveys and section corners.

Washtenaw County Clerk of the Probate Court has Probate Records from 1827 and is located at the County Courthouse, see address above for contact information. Phone: (734)994-2474 .

The Court Adjudicates and disposes of cases involving property of persons who have died or become incompetent, interprets wills and trusts, commits the mentally ill when necessary and appoints guardians and conservators for minors, incapacitated individuals and individuals with developmental disability.

Washtenaw County Clerk of the Circuit Court has Court Records from 1835 and is located at the County Courthouse, see address above for contact information. Phone: (734)994-2550 .

The Clerk provides a variety of functions for the court such as, but not limited to: filing and maintaing the official record for all cases that come before the court; providing staff to assist in the operation of the court; working with the Jury Commission and notifying all potential jurors to appear for jury duty; and, processing felony criminal cases bound over from the District Court.

County Treasurer - Property tax records at the county level usually date back to the first land records. Either the county treasurer or the register of deeds will be the custodian of these records.

Below is a list of online resources for Washtenaw County Court Records. Email us with websites containing Washtenaw County Court Records by clicking the link below:

  • Order County Court, Civil or Criminal Records Online
  • Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
  • Michigan Land Records: Michigan Pre-1908 Homestead & Cash Entry Patent and Cadastral Survey Plat Index.
  • Michigan Eastern District Naturalizations: Index to Naturalization papers of the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, Detroit, 1837-1903 and U.S. Circuit Court, Eastern District of Michigan, Detroit, 1837-1903
  • Washtenaw County, Michigan Court Books at Amazon.com
  • Court, Land, Wills & Financial - Court records are an often overlooked, yet very valuable tool for finding information to assist you in your research. Land records, such as deeds, allow you to tie an ancestor to a specific place at a point in time. Other court records like those dealing with finances and estates often list related family members or give interesting details like the total value of property owned by your ancestors to add interest to your family history.
  • Immigration & Emigration - As our ancestors moved from one country to another, details about their lives were recorded on passenger lists and government documents. Immigration and emigration records can help you learn where your ancestors originally came from, where they went, when they left, who they traveled with, and more.

County Birth, Marriage, Divorce and Death Records

See Also Vital Records in Michigan

Birth, marriage, and death records are connected with central life events. They are prime sources for genealogical information.

The State of Michigan Vital Records Office is located at 201 Townsend Street, Capitol View Bldg, 3rd Floor, Lansing MI 48913 (across the street from the state capitol - south side). The office hours are 8:00 am - 5:00 pm Mon-Fri, except for State holidays. They are open thru the lunch hour. If applying in person, you must submit your request by 3:00 pm in order to obtain same-day service. It can take up to 1-3 months to get a vital record from Michigan.


  • Birth Certificates: The Vital Records Office maintains birth records that occur in Michigan since 1867 to the present. Birth records are restricted in Michigan and only a person or parent named on the record or a legal guardian of the person named on the record may request a copy. A legal representative is eligible to request a copy if he/she represents the person named on the record. Photo identification is required to request a Michigan birth record (unless the birth record is at least 100 years old).
    • Cost: Initial search (fee includes a 3-year search, Each additional year is $12.00 per year) and one certified copy or certification of the record or No Record Statement is $26.00 and $12.00 for each additional copy. Make your check or money order payable to "STATE OF MICHIGAN". Enclose a business-size self-addressed envelope. If no record is found or no copy is made, state law requires that we keep check amount for a searching fee. Please do not send cash in the mail. Mail to: Vital Records Requests, PO Box 30721, Lansing MI 48909
    • Processing Time: If the birth year is 1906 to the present, your request will be processed within 4 weeks. If the birth year is prior to 1906, the processing time will be 1-3 months. when ordered by MAIL or 2-5 Days when you order ELECTRONICALLY
  • Death Certificates: The Vital Records Office maintains death records that occur in Michigan since 1867 to the present.
    • Cost: Initial search (fee includes a 3-year search, Each additional year is $12.00 per year) and one certified copy or certification of the record or No Record Statement is $26.00 and $12.00 for each additional copy. Make your check or money order payable to "STATE OF MICHIGAN". Enclose a business-size self-addressed envelope. If no record is found or no copy is made, state law requires that we keep check amount for a searching fee. Please do not send cash in the mail. Mail to: Vital Records Requests, PO Box 30721, Lansing MI 48909
    • Processing Time: If the death year is 1916 to the present, your request will be processed within 4 weeks of receipt in the vital records office. If the death year is prior to 1916, the processing time will be 1-3 months when ordered by MAIL or 2-5 Days when you order ELECTRONICALLY
  • Marriage Certificates: The Vital Records Office maintains marriage records that occur in Michigan since 1867 to the present.
    • Cost: Initial search (fee includes a 3-year search, Each additional year is $12.00 per year) and one certified copy or certification of the record or No Record Statement is $26.00 and $12.00 for each additional copy. Make your check or money order payable to "STATE OF MICHIGAN". Enclose a business-size self-addressed envelope. If no record is found or no copy is made, state law requires that we keep check amount for a searching fee. Please do not send cash in the mail. Mail to: Vital Records Requests, PO Box 30721, Lansing MI 48909
    • Processing Time: If the marriage year is 1926 to the present, your request will be processed within 4 weeks of receipt in the vital records office. If the marriage year is prior to 1926, the processing time will be 1-3 months when ordered by MAIL
  • Divorce Certificates: The Vital Records Office maintains divorce records that occur in Michigan since 1867 to the present.
    • Cost: Initial search (fee includes a 3-year search, Each additional year is $12.00 per year) and one certified copy or certification of the record or No Record Statement is $26.00 and $12.00 for each additional copy. Make your check or money order payable to "STATE OF MICHIGAN". Enclose a business-size self-addressed envelope. If no record is found or no copy is made, state law requires that we keep check amount for a searching fee. Please do not send cash in the mail. Mail to: Vital Records Requests, PO Box 30721, Lansing MI 48909
    • Processing Time: If the divorce year is 1925 to the present, your request will be processed within 4 weeks of receipt in the vital records office. If the divorce year is prior to 1925, the processing time will be 1-3 months when ordered by MAIL.
  • Order Online: You can also order Order Electronically Online to obtain a certified copy of a birth, marriage, death or divorce record with a credit or debit card and get the certificates within 2-5 days by ordering from VitalChek Express Certificate Service.
  • Apply In Person: If you wish to apply in person to order a Michigan vital record, you may do so at the office located at 201 Townsend St, Capitol View Building, 3rd Floor, Lansing MI 48913 (across from the State Capitol). Lobby hours are 8:00 am - 5:00 pm. Directions are available by logging onto our website at: www.michigan.gov/mdch or by calling 517-335-8666. A check or money order is preferred, and orders in our lobby must be placed by 3:00 pm in order to request same-day service. An additional fee of $10.00 is required for same-day service orders. Please allow a 2-3 hour waiting period for same-day service.

Below is a list of online resources for Washtenaw County Vital Records. Email us with websites containing Washtenaw County Vital Records by clicking the link below:

  • Vital Records from Archives.com: Birth Records, Marriage Records, Divorce Records and Death Records
  • VitalChek Express Certificate Service. - Some documents are just too important to wait six weeks for. With VitalChek Express Certificate Service you won’t have to. VitalChek is the fast and convenient way to order certified government-issued vital records online. They make it easy for you to purchase the documents to which you are legally entitled. Beware of other online services that do not have relationships directly with the agencies that store your vital records. VitalChek's order process usually takes less than 10 minutes --And you can select express courier service for even faster delivery when time is running out.
  • Click Here to Search the Social Security Death Index for FREE- Search over 82 million death records and get genealogical information crucial to your family research. New content added weekly! Most comprehensive SSDI site online!
  • Research Death records In The World's Largest Newspaper Archive at NewpaperArchive.com! - Find thousands of historical Arkansas newspaper articles about deaths. Search for local articles about an old family friend that died many years ago or a celebrity that committed suicide. Historical newspapers contain a wealth of information about the deceased.
  • Birth, Marriage & Death - Vital records (births, deaths, marriages, and divorces) mark the milestones of our lives and are the foundation of family history research. Vital records, usually kept by a civic authority, can give you a more complete picture of your ancestor, help you distinguish between two people with the same name, and help you find links to a new generation.
  • Michigan Marriages to 1850: This database of Michigan marriages to 1850 contains 13,000 names.
  • Michigan Marriages, 1851-75: This database contains records of marriages within the state for the years 1851 through 1875.
  • Michigan Deaths, 1971-1996: With over 2.75 million records, the Michigan Death Index covers the years from 1971 to 1996, making this database of particular interest to those with relatives from Michigan.
  • Washtenaw County, Michigan Birth, Marriage & Death Books at Amazon.com

County Census Records

See Also Research In Census Records & Statewide Records that exist for Michigan

Few, if any, records reveal as many details about individuals and families as do government census records. Substitute records can be used when the official census is unavailable

Countywide Records: Federal Population Schedules that exist for Washtenaw County, Michigan are 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1890 (fragment, see below), 1900, 1910, 1920 and 1930.

Other Federal Schedules to look at when researching your Family Tree in Washtenaw County, Michigan are Industry and Agriculture Schedules availible for the years 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880. The Mortality Schedules for the years 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880. There are free downloadable and printable Census forms to help with your research. These include U.S. Census Extraction Forms and U.K. Census Extraction Forms.

Below is a list of online resources for Washtenaw County Census Records. Email us with websites containing Washtenaw County Census Records by clicking the link below:

  • Census Records at Archives.com
  • Michigan Census, 1827-70: This collection contains the following indexes: 1827 Territorial Census Index; 1837 Kalamazoo County Index; 1840 Federal Census Index; 1840 Pensioners List; 1845 State Census Index; 1850 Federal Census Index; 1860 Federal Census Index; 1870 Federal Census Index; Early Census Index.
  • Michigan State Census, 1894: This database contains information from the 1894 Michigan State Census for the counties of Barry, Bay, Benzie, Dickinson, Emmet, Gratiot, Iosco, Ingham, Kalamazoo, Keweenaw, Lapeer, Menominee, Montcalm, and Washtenaw.
  • Washtenaw County, Michigan Census Books at Amazon.com
  • Census & Voter Lists - A census is an official list of the people in a particular area at a given time, while voter lists show those who were registered to vote in a certain area. The valuable information found on census records helps you to understand your family in their time and place. Voter Lists serve as a confirmation of residence in between the years that the census was taken.

County Maps & Atlases

See Also Statewide Maps that exist for Michigan

Genealogy Atlas has images of old American atlases during the years 1795, 1814, 1822, 1823, 1836, 1838, 1845, 1856, 1866, 1879 and 1897 for Michigan and other states.

You can view rotating animated maps for Michigan showing all the county boundaries for each census year overlayed with past and present maps so you can see the changes in county boundaries. You can view a list of maps for other states at Census Maps

You can view rotating animated maps for Michigan showing all the county boundary changes for each year overlayed with past and present maps so you can see the changes in county boundaries. You can view a list of maps for other states at County Maps

Below is a list of online resources for Washtenaw County Maps. Email us with websites containing Washtenaw County Maps by clicking the link below:

  • The USGenWeb Archives Digital Map Library
  • Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection: Michigan Maps
  • Historical Maps of Michigan - Geographical, Statistical, and Historical Map of Michigan Territory
  • American Memory Map Collection: 1500-2004 - extensive selection from the Library of Congress Map Collections, focusing on Americana and cartographic treasures.
  • Washtenaw County, Michigan Map Books at Amazon.com
  • Maps, Atlases & Gazetteers - Maps are an invaluable part of family history research, especially if you live far from where your ancestor lived. Because political boundaries often changed, historic maps are critical in helping you discover the precise location of your ancestor's hometown, what land they owned, who their neighbors were, and more.

County Military Records

See Also Military Records in Michigan

Military and civil service records provide unique facts and insights into the lives of men and women who have served their country at home and abroad.

The uses and value of military records in genealogical research for ancestors who were veterans are obvious, but military records can also be important to re-searchers whose direct ancestors were not soldiers in any war. The fathers, grandfathers, brothers, and other close relatives of an ancestor may have served in a war, and their service or pension records could contain information that will assist in further identifying the family of primary interest. Due to the amount of genealogical information contained in some military pension files, they should never be overlooked during the research process. Those records not containing specific genealogical information are of historic value and should be included in any overall research design.

Below is a list of online resources for Washtenaw County Military Records. Email us with websites containing Washtenaw County Military Records by clicking the link below:

  • Michigan Society of Daughters of the American Revolution
  • National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution,
  • Michigan Society of Sons of the American Revolution,
  • National Society of Sons of the American Revolution, 1000 South Fourth Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40203; (502) 589-1776
  • Southern Claims Commission (The National Archives): View, Print Copy & Save Original Documents In the 1870s, southerners claimed compensation from the U.S. government for items used by the Union Army, ranging from corn and horses, to trees and church buildings.
  • Organization Index to Pension Files of Veterans Who Served Between 1861 and 1900 from the State of Michigan (The National Archives): View, Print Copy & Save Original Pension applications for service in the U.S. Army between 1861 and 1917, grouped according to the units in which the veterans served.
  • Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783 (The National Archives): View, Print Copy & Save Original Documents in NARA publication M246 include muster rolls, payrolls, strength returns, and other miscellaneous personnel, pay, and supply records of American Army units, 1775-83.
  • Compiled Service Records of Soldiers Who Served in the American Army During the Revolutionary War (The National Archives): View, Print Copy & Save Original Documents in NARA publication M246 include muster rolls, payrolls, strength returns, and other miscellaneous personnel, pay, and supply records of American Army units, 1775-83.
  • Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files (The National Archives): View, Print Copy & Save Original Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, from NARA publication M804.
  • Civil War Principals and Substitutes Index
  • Civil War Soldier Images Database
  • Guest Register of World War I Michigan Clubroom (located in New York City)
  • World War II Honor List of Dead and Missing: State of Michigan
  • 1835 Michigan Territorial Pensioners
  • 1840 Census of Pensioners for Revolutionary or Military Services State of Michigan
  • Michigan in the Civil War: This database contains a report compiled from reports of the Adjutant General and reports held by the War Department in Washington, of the services of Michigan regiments, batteries, and companies in the Civil War.
  • Michigan Military Records, 1775-1836: This database, originally compiled in 1920, is a collection of burial and pension records for residents of the state prior to 1836.
  • Washtenaw County, Michigan Military Books at Amazon.com
  • Military - The men and women called to serve their country in military duty are a source of pride to their families and to their nation. Now, with databases containing more than 16 million names and thousands of government records available to search, researching your veteran ancestors has become easier than ever before.

County Genealogical Addresses

See Also Other Michigan Genealogical Addresses

The Repositories in this section are Archives, Libraries, Museums, Genealogical and Historical Societies. Many County Historical and Genealogical Societies publish magazines and/or news letters on a monthly, quarterly, bi-annual or annual basis. Contacting the local societies should not be over looked. State Archives and Societies are usually much larger and better organized with much larger archived materials than their smaller county cousins but they can be more generalized and over look the smaller details that local societies tend to have. Libraries can also be a good place to look for local information. Some libraries have a genealogy section and may have some resources that are not located at archives or societies. Also, take a special look at any museums in the area. They sometimes have photos and items from years gone by as well as information of a genealogical interest. All these places are vitally important to the family genealogist and must not be passed over.

Below is a list of online resources for Washtenaw County Genealogical Addresses. Email us with websites containing Washtenaw County Genealogical Addresses by clicking the link below:

  • Genealogical Society of Washtenaw Co., MI, Inc., P.O. Box 7155, Ann Arbor, MI 48107-7155
  • National Archives - Great Lakes Region (Chicago), 7358 South Pulaski Road, Chicago, Illinois 60629-5898; 773-948-9001; E-mail: (Maintains retired records from Federal agencies and courts in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.) General Information Leaflet
  • State Archives of Michigan, 702 W Kalamazoo Str, P.O. Box 30738, Lansing, MI 48909-8238; (517) 373-1408; Original material generated by government offices at the state and/or local level, including census records, tax assessment rolls, military records and photographs are among the extensive holdings. They also have some naturalization files, correctional facility records, school records, and depression era agency files. The archives distribute information circulars on many topics. The circulars act as finding aids to their extensive collection.
  • The Historical Society of Michigan, 1305 Abbott Rd., East Lansing, MI 48823; (517) 324-1828; Fax: (517) 324-4370, e-mail:
  • Library of Michigan, : 702 W. Kalamazoo St, Lansing, MI 48909; Holdings here include an extensive genealogical and historical collection including books, microforms, manuscripts, newspapers, surname index, Centennial and Sesquicentennial Certificate applications, and diaries. Records are housed in a new building with card catalog. See: http://michigan.gov/hal/libraryofmichigan for more information/services. Limited reference service to mail request. They also offer online reference services at:
  • Newspapers & Periodicals - The Newspapers & Periodicals Collection lets you discover a wealth of information about your ancestors from many historical newspapers, magazines, and other periodicals. These types of sources can often supplement public records and provide information that is not recorded anywhere else. Here, you can learn more about your ancestor's possible daily activities by placing them in the context of their time.
  • Directories & Member Lists - Directories and member lists are typically compilations of information about people who belonged to various associations and groups or lived within city boundaries. They can be thought of as the predecessors to the modern-day phone book and usually list names, addresses, and sometimes the occupations of your ancestors.
  • Michigan Genealogical Society Books at Amazon.com

County Church & Cemeteries

See Also Church & Cemetery Records in Michigan

Obituaries can vary in the amount of information they contain, but many of them are genealogical goldmines, including information such as names, dates, places of birth and death, marriage information, and family relationships.

There are many churches and cemeteries in Washtenaw County. Some transcriptions are online. A great site is the Washtenaw County Tombstone Transcription Project.

The earliest religious denomination in Michigan was the Roman Catholic church, established through a mission in 1668 at Sault Ste. Marie. Ste. Anne's, in Detroit, has parish records beginning in 1703.

Michigan Historical Collections in Ann Arbor holds large collections from the Presbyterian Church and the Protestant Episcopal Church, in addition to other denominations. Dutch Reformed church records are at Calvin College and Seminary Library in Grand Rapids; Finnish church records are deposited at the Finnish-American Historical Archives at Suomi College in Hancock. The Upjohn Library at Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo has a large collection of Baptist archive material. Many early Detroit churches have their records deposited at the Burton Historical Collection-Detroit Public Library. The Michigan Historical Records Survey, WPA, completed an Inventory of the Church Archives of Michigan, and many of the church records from this inventory were published from 1936 through 1942.

The Library of Michigan in Lansing and the Burton Historical Collection have over 1,000 books of transcribed or published tombstone readings from Michigan cemeteries. To locate a cemetery in the state, consult the Michigan Cemetery Compendium. It lists most cemeteries in Michigan.

Below is a list of online resources for Washtenaw County Cemetery & Church Records. Email us with websites containing Washtenaw County Cemetery & Church Records by clicking the link below:

  • Cemetery Records at Archives.com
  • Find Obituaries in The World's Largest Newspaper Archive at NewpaperArchive.com! - Find thousands of Michigan obituaries to help you research your family history. Search for a Michigan newspaper obituary about your ancestor or a celebrity. Begin your search today and find death notices and funeral announcements printed in newspapers from Michigan.
  • Obituary Records at Archives.com
  • America's Obituaries (1977 to current) at Genealogybank.com - Obituaries contain helpful information such as names, dates, places of birth, death, marriage and family information. Over 28 million obituaries make this the most complete collection from the 20th and 21st centuries - includes over 1,100 U.S. newspapers. New content added daily!
  • Revolutionary Soldiers Buried in Michigan
  • Washtenaw County, Michigan Cemetery Books at Amazon.com
  • Washtenaw County, Michigan Church Books at Amazon.com

Family Trees & Genealogy Tidbits

 

The use of published genealogies, electronic files containing genealogical lineage, and other compiled sources can be of tremendous value to a researcher.

When view family trees online or not, be sure to only take the info at face value and always follow up with your own sources or verify the ones they provide. Below is a list of online resources for Washtenaw County Family Trees, web forums and other family type information. Email us with websites containing Washtenaw County Family Trees, web forums and other family type information by clicking the link below:

  • Search for Local Michigan Researchers or Earn Money by becoming a Local Michigan Researcher!
  • Search 60 Years Of Everton Data: For the first time ever you can get access to more than 150,000 pedigree files and family group sheets from Evertons. Learn More
  • Sites on USGenweb: [ Washtenaw County ] [ Michigan ] [ Main Page ]
  • Search the Family Tree DNA Project- Use DNA testing to break through your genealogical barriers!
  • The Michigan Family Group Sheet Project
  • Washtenaw County MIGenWeb Archives
  • [GenForum Message Boards] [Rootsweb Message Boards]
  • Genealogy Encyclopedia: General Abbreviations, Early Illnesses, Nickname Meanings, Worldwide Epidemics, Early Occupations, Common Terms, Censuses Explained, Free Genealogical Forms
  • Nichols and Related Families of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virgina.
  • Family Trees - Ancestry has thousands of family trees shared by other members. They can help you identify how ancestors are related and give you clues about birth, marriage, and death information. Family trees are an excellent resource for filling in gaps in your research or even to simply know where to begin.
  • Pictures - One of the more exciting discoveries in doing family history research is finding a photograph of your ancestors or their residence. Finding historic postcard photos and drawings of towns and important events throughout history can also give you a visual look into your ancestors lives.
  • Reference Materials & Finding Aids - Reference materials, including dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other how-to books, can be tremendously helpful in finding and interpreting historical documents. Many of these books can help you learn where to look for more information and how to use what you've already found to uncover more clues.
  • Washtenaw County, Michigan Family Books at Amazon.com

Extended History

 

According to Chapman's History of Washtenaw County (1881), the legislative Council of Michigan Territory defined the boundaries of Washtenaw County in 1822. Washtenaw is a variant of Wash-ten-ong, a Chippewa name for Grand River. The Huron River valley was originally home to a large Native American population. In 1680, the French explorer LaSalle passed eastward through this region canoeing from Portage Lake down the Huron to Lake Erie. French fur traders and Jesuit missionaries soon followed.

Four years after Michigan became a territory in 1805, Godfrey, Pepin and LaShambre established a trading post known as "Godfrey's, on the Pottawatomie Trail" in what is now Ypsilanti. Many pioneers saw economic opportunity by harnessing river power for sawmills and gristmills. Major Benjamin Woodruff, who purchased 160 acres of land in 1823 in Ypsilanti Township, is commonly acknowledged to be Washtenaw's first settler. A year later John Allen collaborated with Elisha Rumsey to plat the town of Annarbour, named for Allen's wife, Ann, and for the burr oak openings.

The University of Michigan, founded in Detroit in 1817, moved to Ann Arbor in 1837. In Ypsilanti, Michigan State Normal School now Eastern Michigan University (founded in 1849) is the oldest teachers' institution west of the Allegheny Mountains.

Early area transportation networks developed from the rivers and Native American trails. In 1827 the Chicago Military Road was built along the Great Sauk Trail (Michigan Avenue). Two years later, the Territorial Road to St. Joseph (now US-12) was built along the same route. The completion of the Michigan Central Railroad's Detroit-Ann Arbor connection in 1839 symbolized the beginning of a new era of immigration, economic accessibility and growth for Washtenaw County.

Washtenaw County is located in southeast Michigan, covering an area of 720 square miles. Its 27 cities, villages and townships are home to about 325,000 citizens in urban, suburban, and rural settings. This mix of different settings provides many opportunities for education, recreation, business, agricultural, and home life. The two largest cities are Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, homes to two large universities - the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti.

History of Washtenaw County Government

Washtenaw County is situated in southeastern Michigan approximately 30 miles west of Detroit: Ann Arbor is the County Seat. Five cities: Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Saline, Chelsea and Milan; and three incorporated villages: Manchester, Dexter and Barton Hills are located within the County. The County spans a distance of 30 miles east-west and extends 24 miles in the north-south direction. In 1990 the population was nearly 283,000 persons. By the year 2000 the population is expected to reach 350,000. It is one of the few Michigan counties which continues to grow at a moderate rate.

  • 1822 Boundary Lines The Washtenaw County boundary lines were established on September 10 by the Legislative Council, but the land area was attached to Wayne County, Territory of Michigan, for administration.
  • 1823 Settlement About a mile southeast of Ypsilanti, Benjamin Woodruff began the first permanent European settlement.
  • 1824 Allen Cabin The first cabin in what is now Ann Arbor was built near Allen Creek by Elisha W. Rumsey and John Allen during Spring of this year. Later in the year Ann Arbor was selected as the seat for County government. It is reported that there were 15-30 settlers in the "County" at that time..
  • 1825 Public Services Post Office was established and John Allen became the Postmaster. The first school was a log building in Ann Arbor and Miss Monroe taught the classes. Old Chicago Road, the first public road in the County, was surveyed. This road, for the most part, followed the Detroit to Chicago Indian Trail.
  • 1826 Formal Organization During the year the requirements for legally organizing into an independent county took place.
  • 1827 County Established On January 1, Washtenaw County, Territory of Michigan, legally came into being. Division of the County into 20 townships began later that year. The population was nearly 1,000. The first session of County Court was held in the home of Erastus Priest by Samuel W. Dexter, Chief Justice; and by Oliver Whitmore, Associate Justice. The Legislative Council approved the first Circuit Court on April 13, and a Probate Judge was appointed. Marriages recorded.
  • 1828 Circuit Court In November, the first session of Circuit Court was held by Honorable William Woodbridge.
  • 1829 County Jail A jail was the first public County building to be constructed. The first newspaper, "The Western Emigrant" a five column folio, edited by Thomas Simpson, was published on November 18th, in Ann Arbor.
  • 1833 Naturalization Filing of naturalization information began.
  • 1834 Courthouse The County was seven years of age when construction of the first Courthouse was completed.
  • 1835 Supervisors Records Filing of County Supervisors' records was initiated.
  • 1837 Statehood The Territory of Michigan became a State.
  • 1867 Vital Statistics The recording of births and deaths began.
  • 1877 Second Courthouse A larger Courthouse replaced the one that was built 44 years earlier.
  • 1955 Third Courthouse A new building replaced the Courthouse that was in use for 77 years.
  • 1969 County Commissioners The Board of County Supervisors, composed of one representative from each Township and two or more persons from each City, was replaced by a smaller Board of Commissioners. Each Commissioner represented one of 13 districts into which the County was divided. Following the 1970 Census, Commissioner districts were increased in number to keep the population per district at approximately the previous level: the result, 15 districts.

What does the word "Washtenaw" mean?

There are many legends concerning the name Washtenaw. Some people think it was the name of an Indian who lived near the mouth of the river. Other people think it was the Potawatamie word for large stream or river. Emerson Greenman, a former curator of the museum of anthropology at the University of Michigan, wrote that Washtenaw derived from the Algonquin and meant 'Far Country' with Detroit as the Point of reference. Source: Michigan GenWeb .

How far back do County historical records go?

The historical records of Washtenaw County are located in the County Clerk/Register of Deeds’ Office, beginning with the following dates:

* Births* 1867
* Circuit Court Files 1828
* Deaths 1867
* Elections 1829
* Land Records 1824
* Marriages 1827
* Military Discharges* 1919
* Supervisors’ Proceedings 1835

Michigan Site Map | | Real Time Web Analytics by Clicky | Copyright © 2009 Genealogy Inc,